Pam tells us about her volunteering role.
After working at Michael Sobell Hospice for several years, I now work in the *Day Therapy Unit. On the day I work, we mostly have ladies, some of whom have life-limiting illnesses, however many of them have been coming for several years and have formed close friendships with each other and the volunteers.
We welcome them with refreshments, serve lunch but mostly just chat with them. Sometimes those who live alone haven’t seen another person since their last visit to us and really enjoy just catching up with each other and telling us how their week has been.
We hear their news, about their families and share ours too. More importantly, it gives them a chance to discuss any concerns they have with the day centre staff. We share their chair exercise session and have a volunteer who does painting with them.
Painting is just one of the crafts and interests they can do on various days. I’ve seen people who say they’ve never picked up a paintbrush in their life produce some beautiful pictures after a few sessions.
Their newfound creativity really boosts their wellbeing, especially seeing it displayed in the centre of their homes. It’s also okay for patients to just push back their chair and have a snooze.
How does volunteering make you feel?
All sorts of feelings. Initially pleased that after working most of my life, I had the chance to do something exciting and totally new to me.
Grateful that I’ve met so many people who have amazed me with their stories of the very often interesting lives they have led, news of their families, their humour and the genuine concern for each other. I also find most are interested in hearing about my life too, what I’ve been doing and all about the usual family antics.
I’m always amazed that despite their illness and the challenges they have, they’re still positive, hopeful and delighted to see their friends. There is sadness occasionally, but generally, when I leave, I feel heartened by the friendship and positivity of the people I’ve been with. I’m very grateful to give something back for the good things in my life too.
How has Lockdown been for you?
My husband was diagnosed with cancer in January. He was initially very ill, so it’s been almost a year since I’ve been at the Day Unit. In the last few weeks with a couple of other volunteers, I’ve been helping out in the fundraising department on various tasks. It was good to get out again and see old friends too.
What would you say to encourage others to volunteer?
You won’t regret it! Despite imagining, it would be a place of sadness I could not have been more wrong.
I have met so many compassionate, dedicated and skilled people who tirelessly work to make the Hospice a place of comfort and friendship.
They provide the best palliative care for people who are not only end of life, but often just coming in for respite or pain management care.
*Due to the pandemic and current restrictions, the Day Therapy Unit is currently closed. Patients are being supported by our team remotely.